So I have just managed to read through the recently published report from the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons* in which they give their views on the post 2015 agenda. I found it a really good, and inspiring read. Of course it’s easy to be cynical about these kind of reports and say that they will make no difference but I think we should welcome the fact that some fairly important and powerful people have been seriously thinking about what we mean by development and how we might achieve it. And I think they have been much more visionary than some expected.
In case you don’t have time to read it, the panel suggest ‘five big transformative shifts’ which are, in summary:
- Properly tackle inequality
- Embed environmental sustainability in development
- Drive economic transformation
- Support effective institutions
- Build a new global partnership
The report also provides a list of ‘illustrative’ goals which they seem to be setting forward as a starting point for discussions (although, as argued here, this probably won’t stop everyone and their dog jumping in to complain that their pet issue is not included in them!).
So, I thought I would give a quick summary of three things I particularly loved, and two minor quibbles I have with the report.
Stuff I loved
1. It is great that the panel highlights that developed countries have a major responsibility to act – both by reducing their impact on the environments and by taking a serious look at how their systems (or lack thereof) might be contributing to poverty and corruption. People from developing countries are rightly tired of being criticised by politicians from rich countries which are destroying the global environment and benefitting from corrupt businesses. I am therefore really pleased to see the call for developed countries to ‘get their house in order’.
2. I am delighted that the ‘illustrative’ goal on education includes quality (as well as quantity). As I discussed in my last post, we need to go beyond getting ‘bums on seats’ and instead think about how to improve the amount is actually learnt.
3. I really welcome the increased focus on governance and institutions in the report and was particularly pleased that the authors highlight that achieving fair and inclusive societies is an aim in itself – as well as a route to achieving poverty reduction. Of course, we all realise that achieving this is very difficult but at least by putting it at the forefront of their recommendations, the panel have managed to respond to one of the major criticisms of the millenium development goals.
A couple of criticisms
1. There is a section on the importance of science and technology but I felt it adopted the rather hackneyed narrative that investment in science and technology will automatically lead to economic growth. I have argued before that, while I do support investment in research, we need to think a bit more carefully about how we expect that investment to contribute to society rather than just assuming that it will lead to some magical technological fix.
2. As I mentioned above, it is really wonderful to see an emphasis on quality of education – but it only mentions primary and secondary education. Surely, if we want countries to have the human capital they will need to pull themselves out of poverty we will also need to have high quality tertiary education?
So, those are my initial thoughts – I am really impressed by what they have achieved and think it is a good and inspiring read. There are a few aspects that I am particularly happy to see – and just a couple of parts where I would have liked a slightly more nuanced approach. But what do others think? I am really interested to hear your thoughts.
*This, incidentally, is a fabulous name for a committee and I think my new aim in life is to be on a ‘High-level Panel of Eminent Persons’. I am less sure about what I should be eminent in (can one be eminent in something or do you just become generally eminent?)…